Table tennis is a fun game to play with friends but a decidedly tricky sport to master when it comes to competitive and tournament-style matches.
If you want to get better at table tennis but aren’t sure where to begin, these 10 simple tips can help you pinpoint your game’s specific weaknesses and isolate them as part of your training. The more you work on these areas, the stronger you’ll become as a table tennis player.
These tips can also help you improve your general mindset, so you remain composed and calm throughout tournaments and how to react effectively to your opponents’ spin shots.
10 Key Tips to Advance Your Table Tennis Game
Here are 10 actionable tips you can use to strengthen your table tennis game and beat your friends or opponents during tournaments or social matches.
1. Learn How to Hold Your Paddle Correctly
Whenever you’re trying to get better at any sport, it’s best to start with the basics. First, learn how to hold your paddle correctly. You can choose between two main types of grip: the shakehand and the penhold.
The shakehand is the most popular table tennis grip, and it involves resting your thumb on the blade or handle while gripping the other side of the paddle with your index finger. The penhold grip has several variations, but in each version, you hold the blade so that it’s facing toward the ground.
The shakehand grip is easier to learn and master, but the penhold grip works better for players who like to remain close to the table during the game.
2. Perfect the Art of Spin
Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can learn more about the art of spin in table tennis. Doing this allows you to counter your opponent whenever they play tricky spin shots.
Try to get in the habit of tracking your rival’s paddle when they hit a shot. If they move the blade from low to high across the back of the ping-pong ball, you know they’re generating topspin. If they’re moving the blade from high to low, they’re creating backspin. To generate left sidespin, they’ll move their hand from their right to their left, and vice versa for right sidespin.
When you’re aware of these movements, you can begin incorporating them into your play to trick your opponent and win points. You can also react to their spin shots more effectively and quickly. If they’re generating topspin, aim to angle your blade so that it’s over the center of the ping-pong ball: for backspin, angle your blade upward so that it’s under the ball’s center.
If you notice that your opponent is attempting to put a sidespin on the ball, take that into consideration when you’re positioning your paddle. For instance, if they’re generating a right spin, angle your blade more to the right than you would normally.
3. Work on Your Weaknesses
Regardless of the sport, you’re playing, one of the most effective ways of taking your game and skill set to the next level is to work routinely and methodically on your weaknesses.
For example, if you keep serving too long or high in matches, practice your serve for 15 minutes or so every day before rallying or playing with your friends. If you want to get better at countering spin shots, get a training partner to hit these types of shots across the net to you for a certain amount of time every day or week.
4. Learn How to Hold Your Body in the Ready Position
Get in the habit of standing in a proper ready position whenever your opponent is about to hit the ball. Try to keep your legs slightly wider than a shoulder-width apart, with your knees slightly bent and your weight evenly distributed between the balls of your feet.
Hold your paddle out in front of you so that you’re ready to return your opponent’s shot.
5. Lower Your Returns
When people are first learning table tennis, they often make the mistake of getting their paddle right under the ball and hitting their return shots too high over the net. This gives your rival plenty of time to prepare for their shot. It also gives them more angle to play with when it comes to generating spin on the ball.
Try to get into the practice of keeping your return shots low and fast over the top of the net in the middle of the table. Hit the ball when it’s low to the tabletop surface, shifting your weight onto your front foot and passing the blade over the ball as you follow through.
6. Focus on Shortening Your Swing
If you find yourself hitting the ping-pong ball with a long, extended swing, you should change this method. When it comes to table tennis, shorter swings are more effective than longer ones: they suit the rapid base of this sport better, and they enable you to hit more precise, powerful shots.
7. Train With Someone Better Than You
One of the best ways to get better at table tennis is to find a training partner who’s better at the game than you. Aim to practice with someone who can challenge you to work on your weaknesses and build on your strengths. You want them to be better than you, but not so much better that there’s no competition whatsoever when you play each other.
Consider joining a local table tennis club so you can train with like-minded individuals who are as committed to improving their skills as you are to improving yours.
8. Work on Your Mind Game
Table tennis is a mental game as much as it’s a physical activity. You need to think on your feet and reset your mind after every single point if you want to be a successful player.
Get into the practice of visualizing aspects of your training sessions or matches before you pick up the paddle. Try to make a mental contingency plan for how you’re going to react if and when something goes wrong in the game. Visualize yourself reacting healthily and constructively to these setbacks.
9. Focus on Accelerating Through the Ball
Another technical skill to master is that of accelerating right through the ball when performing topspin shots. You’ll want to begin your swing so that it’s low and slow, then move the paddle from bottom to top. When you get to the top section, accelerate your hand to get a whip-like speed on the ball. It’s as though you’re slinging from the hip. This last-moment acceleration will help your ball fly hard, low, and fast over the net.
10. Use Your Own Paddle
If you can afford your own paddle, try to buy one and then stick to using this blade whenever you train or play matches. There are many types of paddles with various sizes and weights, so you want to get a feel for one particular racket and use this product exclusively.
Train Like a Ping Pong Pro
If you’ve just invested in a new, high-quality ping-pong table and you want to improve your game, follow these 10 simple tips, and you’ll turn into a skilled, composed, and disciplined player. From perfecting your grip to mastering topspin, a few simple tweaks to your game is all that is needed to take your game to the next level.